In the 2400 building, students have a chance to learn a slice of Southwestern American Indian history.
Jane McCoy, a Las Positas College history teacher, arranged two display cases with woven bas- kets, paintings and authentic little dolls.
Students who have an inter- est in Native American culture might find the $20,000 collection worthy of a stroll to that end of campus. On Wednesday, March 6, Mary Beth Acuff will be publicly thanked during the Town Meeting for her donation of these artifacts to LPC.
Only a fraction of what Acuff originally owned was donated to LPC. Before she moved to Livermore from Albuquerque, N.M., her home was broken into and items were stolen on eight different occasions. A few of the pieces in the display were almost taken but were dropped by the burglar as he ran away.
“It’s almost a dying art,” McCoy said.
Some tribes gather together to try and teach younger generations the art of basket weaving. Along with woven baskets and paintings, there are kachina dolls.
Kachina is the Hopi word for their gods. Hopi parents traditionally made them into dolls to help teach their children about their culture. Other groups, such as the Navajo, joined in making kachina dolls because they became commercially valuable.
“Authentic, very valuable kachinas are Hopi made, and many of the kachinas in that case are Hopi made and those are expensive and very valuable,”
McCoy said. Pueblo Indians were made of up several different tribes, Hopi is one of them, and the other tribe displayed is the Zuni tribe. The three Zuni paintings in the showcases are some of the most valuable items.
The Pueblo Indian tribes were very diverse. They were independent of each other and spoke different languages. Yet they were most successful in driving out the Spaniards in the 1600s, who were brutally trying to convert and colonize the Pueblo land in what is modern day New Mexico.
McCoy told the story of Po’Pay.
At the time, the Spaniards were responsible for the torturing, raping, converting and murdering of hundreds of Pueblo men, women and children.
Po’Pay rallied the different tribes, uniting them together despite the language barrier, much like a Native American version of “Avatar.”
Together, they killed half the Spanish colonists and almost all of their livestock, driving them from the region. Eventually, the Spaniards came back, but they didn’t use the same brutal tactics to force their religion and culture on them.
“It’s nice to have something in the halls to look at you while you’re waiting for your class to start. It really caught my eye and I found myself looking at it more every time I came in the build- ing,” said LPC student Alex Belletto.
When asked how she feels about the display, McCoy had one simple reply.
“I’m going to be retiring in a couple of years, and so you know, it makes me really proud to have brought this collection to the col- lege as part of my legacy.”